Sean O'Sullivan

Sean O'Sullivan, founder of SOS Ventures, on Mentorship, Accelerators, and Loving What You Do


A cursory look at Sean O’Sullivan’s profile on LinkedIn, you could tell he is one busy man. As the managing partner of SOSV - an accelerator VC - he helps fund at the seed stage about 150 companies per year out of the thousands that apply in their various accelerator programs like HAX, IndieBio, Chinaccelerator, Interface, Urban-X and Food-X. (Bizzy Coffee was part of Food-X's Cohort III last December 2015.)

But being a VC-guy is just one of many hats that Sean has worn.

His interests are as wide as they are varied. He has worked as an “engineer, musician, computer programmer, software designer, marketing guy, sales guy, humanitarian worker, war photographer, cinematographer on music videos, short films, and documentaries, stock picker, freelance photojournalist, small business operator, venture capitalist and writer.

He was a co-inventor and popularizer of street mapping on personal computers, something he did while with MapInfo. Cloud computing? Well, he just happens to be credited with the co-invention of the term, along with with George Favaloro of Compaq.

Languages? He can do passable Spanish, as well as pidgin French, Arabic and Chinese.

How does Sean manage all these things - these skills, these activities, these accomplishments? His insights on being merely busy versus being actually productive, is instructive.

“The challenge is organizing your time so that you’re just not busy. It’s not about stacking your day, filling the hours with lots of activities.” he says.

“It’s about being strategic about what you’re trying to accomplish within a time-box period. Even within a short period of time, you can actually transform your life. That’s I think the key of being busy in a productive way.”

On Mentors and Accelerators

“When i was just starting out as an entrepreneur, I had the benefit of having some really good mentors.

As a first time entrepreneur, it’s really difficult. You cant know everything - how to close a corporate sale, how to negotiate term sheets with investors and VCs, or how to approach the media. All of that advice is critical.

Thats why we created accelerators. That’s why I love what I do.”


Teaser 1: On Being Busy vs. Being Productive


Teaser 2: On Productivity and Human Potential